Despite the truth that smartphones simply do not make for excellent gaming platforms, there is not any scarcity of gaming-centric telephones available on the market. Xiaomi’s Black Shark 2 Professional is the newest one to hit the market, going toe-to-toe with choices from ASUS, Razer, and ZTE. The Black Shark 2 Professional definitely appears the half, and at $599 within the US, it presents some nice specs for the cash. That stated, except you champion the Android online game expertise over all else, you are in all probability higher off wanting elsewhere.
Clearly, this isn’t a conventional-looking cellphone. The Black Shark web site says that the design was impressed by F1 race vehicles, although I can not say I see the resemblance. To my eye, it appears extra like an Alienware product; my Iceberg Gray overview unit even shares the identical silver and light-weight blue shade scheme as many Alienware laptops and desktops. The cellphone is primarily aluminum with a glass insert on the again. Within the heart of the glass insert is one other strip of aluminum that comprises the Black Shark “S” brand. The facility button is on the best, with the “Shark House” toggle instantly above it. The amount rocker is on the left. Total construct high quality is implausible; the cellphone is effectively put-together with good supplies. There’s additionally a ton of RGB lighting: the “S” brand and two vertical bars on the again, in addition to a tall vertical bar on the left and proper sides of the cellphone.
The 6.4″ OLED show is nothing particular, although the sheer dimension does make the cellphone a bit unwieldy. It makes use of the now-ubiquitous 19.5:9 side ratio, therefore the unusual 2340×1080 decision. Max brightness is 430 nits, which is common at greatest. Colours look alright, too. I used to be actually anticipating a 90Hz or 120Hz show provided that this can be a gaming cellphone, however we’re caught with an outdated 60Hz panel right here. The display is fairly mediocre when in comparison with flagship telephones today, however then once more, the Black Shark 2 Professional prices so much lower than most flagships. I do have a bone to select with the auto-brightness, although; it is all the time both too shiny or too dim at midnight. The cellphone has a plastic display protector pre-installed. It does an okay job at resisting fingerprints and scratches.
Cellphone audio system are by no means “good,” solely “much less unhealthy,” and the Black Shark 2 Professional’s twin entrance stereo setup is not one of many higher ones I’ve skilled. By way of high quality, it is alright, but it surely would not get as loud as my Pixel Three or Pixel 4. I had no complaints concerning the name high quality — I heard the particular person on the opposite finish loud and clear, and I received no complaints from callers. I wasn’t very impressed with the in-display fingerprint sensor, both; it requires you to place your finger very exactly and necessitates a retry fairly typically. Even with no hiccups, it is nonetheless fairly gradual.
The included clear case.
You get a number of stuff while you purchase a Black Shark 2 Professional. Like each different cellphone, there is a wall brick, a USB-C cable, some paperwork, and a SIM ejector within the field. Xiaomi additionally offers you a USB-C to three.5mm adapter, a transparent case, a pre-installed display protector, the left gamepad, and the mount for the left gamepad. I do not know why solely the left gamepad is included by default, as it isn’t very simple to play video games with just a few bodily controls on the left. My overview pack additionally included the best gamepad ($37.90) and the plastic shell required to make use of it ($19.90).
The gamepads simply connect with the cellphone independently by way of Bluetooth. The left one has a joystick, whereas the best one has a touchpad. There are two triggers atop every, and the sunshine bars on the edges of the cellphone mild up every time one thing is clicked. The little triangle outlines that glow inexperienced are buttons that can help you management the place on the display every joystick/button faucets. The gamepads themselves are about what you’d count on, with clicky buttons and the standard controller structure. It is a bit annoying that the gamepads should be charged independently, however I suppose there’s not a lot different while you embody the left one totally free and cost an additional price for the best one. A minimum of they use USB Sort-C.
As you may count on from a cellphone with a 1080p show, the Snapdragon 855+, and 8GB of RAM, this factor has by no means proven any body drops or different indicators of lag. It additionally did not get very popular even beneath some prolonged gaming use, which may in all probability be attributed to the liquid cooling contained in the cellphone. You might improve to the 12GB RAM / 256GB storage mannequin for $100 extra, however that quantity of RAM is simply foolish, and most of the people actually do not want 256GB on their cellphone. Nonetheless, needless to say the Black Shark 2 Professional would not have a microSD slot. A minimum of the storage that it does have is UFS 3.0.
Primarily based on Android 9 Pie, JoyUI makes use of a reasonably close-to-stock construct. I used to be excited to see this initially, although I discovered myself disliking it the extra I used it. For starters, there are just a few silly oversights that might have simply been mounted earlier than primetime. The icons within the standing bar are means too near the corners of the rounded show. There are numerous translation errors all through the interface that make it clear this can be a Chinese language cellphone at the start. There is no approach to rapidly entry the digicam with out getting into your PIN. I additionally discovered the vibration motor to be a bit too harsh, and there is not any setting to show it down. It is issues like this that simply make the cellphone really feel unpolished.
As a result of this factor is mainly operating Pie with a number of add-ons, I will simply go over the add-ons right here. For starters, there is a ton of customization for the RGB lighting across the cellphone. The lighting on the again will be set to a wide range of colours, together with rainbow, which cycles by means of all of them. You may as well management what the lights on the aspect do when the cellphone is powering on, when there is a name incoming, when you have got a notification, and when the cellphone is charging. In actual fact, you may even select totally different results for identified contacts and sure apps. The final RGB gimmick I will point out is its means to pulse to the music that you simply’re taking part in in numerous colours. In fact, all of this may be turned off, however the place’s the enjoyable in that?
There’s additionally “Sport Dock 4.0,” which Xiaomi calls the “Final Gaming Dashboard.” It offers you fast entry to issues like efficiency stats and the power to mute notifications, and you may even have efficiency stats overlaid on the display as effectively. “Grasp Contact” is like Apple’s 3D Contact, however for gaming functions. Principally, you may program contact zones by urgent lighter or more durable. Xiaomi additionally says that its show is twice as fast as different show’s response occasions, although I can not say I actually seen any distinction.
Should you’re a Sweet Crush grasp like me, you want this cellphone.
The one different actual add-on is the toggle on the best aspect above the facility button to enter “Shark House,” which immediately places you into an arcade mode of types. Whenever you transfer this slider up, a really ’90s animation performs on the display, your entire background processes are closed, all calls and messages are muted, and also you’re introduced right into a bizarre showcase show the place solely video games are proven. You may manually add different video games if a few of yours do not present up right here by default. It is positively an attention-grabbing thought, however solely essentially the most hardcore players on the market will in all probability ever use it. I want the toggle might be reprogrammed to do one thing else.
Battery life on the Black Shark 2 Professional is phenomenal, however that is not stunning given the 1080p display and 4,000mAh battery. I used to be in a position to get 7-Eight hours of screen-on time per cost with my heavier utilization, which makes for fairly a giant distinction from my Pixel 4’s 4 hours of SOT.
One of many essential causes that I all the time discover myself going again to a Pixel is the digicam. Going into this overview, I wasn’t anticipating the Black Shark 2 Professional’s digicam to be wherever close to nearly as good because the Pixel’s, however it’s kind of higher than I anticipated.
The Black Shark 2 Professional has two sensors on the again: a 48MP Sony IMX586 and a 12MP telephoto. Like most trendy smartphone cameras, this cellphone takes good photographs in good lighting, albeit with a little bit an excessive amount of post-processing for my style. The colours are additionally a bit muted. This cellphone truly does moderately effectively in conditions with poorer lighting — even higher than the Pixel Four in some conditions. As an example, within the pictures of the rubbish can under, the Black Shark truly produced a a lot sharper picture than the Pixel. The highest and backside rows are with the traditional and telephoto lenses, respectively.
Left: Pixel 4. Proper: Black Shark 2 Professional.
Nonetheless, when there’s little or no to no mild out, the Black Shark 2 Professional struggles. I additionally seen that it tends to appropriate the lighting to a very totally different shade. There’s a evening mode out there, but it surely’s nowhere close to as competent because the Pixel 4’s Evening Sight. It solely brightens issues up by the slightest quantity on the expense of picture element. Evening Sight takes a bit longer, but it surely produces a a lot cleaner and extra detailed consequence. The highest row of pictures under was shot usually, and the underside row was utilizing every cellphone’s evening mode.
Left: Pixel 4. Proper: Black Shark 2 Professional.
By default, the 48MP sensor condenses all the pieces right into a 12MP picture, although there’s a “48M” digicam mode that’ll course of a picture with all the megapixels you can need. I took a number of units of an identical pictures, one in commonplace and the opposite in 48M mode, and genuinely could not inform the distinction between the 2. Both the cellphone is already going a great job of compressing 48MP price of information into 12MP, or the post-processing is simply destroying the element. I believe it is some mixture of each.
Left: Pixel 4. Proper: Black Shark 2 Professional.
I additionally tried out the portrait mode, which is alright. Above, you may see that the Black Shark 2 Professional will get a bit confused across the roof of the toy van, but it surely does a greater job at separating all the pieces else from the background than the Pixel 4. Nonetheless, it does must be fairly a bit farther from the topic than the Pixel 4, which can or might not be a difficulty for you relying on the situation of the pictures you are taking.
Should you take a number of video, it’s best to in all probability know that the Black Shark 2 Professional would not do a very good job in that regard. I discovered that the stabilization wasn’t nice, and the microphones would choose up background noise a bit too simply. Plus, it was noticeably grainier than the Pixel in low mild circumstances.
Do you have to purchase it?
Xiaomi Black Shark 2 Professional
Perhaps. Should you prioritize the gaming expertise above all, the Black Shark 2 Professional is fairly attractive. It has a giant display, an enormous battery, wonderful gamepad assist, and a number of RGB lighting (if that is your factor). It additionally has some fairly nice specs for the cash. That stated, the software program expertise leaves one thing to be desired, and there are fairly a number of options which are current on many rivals lacking right here. The gradual fingerprint sensor and aggravating auto-brightness do not assist.
The Black Shark 2 Professional is a reasonably good cellphone, however I can not assist however assume that the $599 OnePlus 7T or $499 OP7 Professional can be higher for 95% of lovers. These telephones provide comparable efficiency, much less controversial designs, extra options (together with 90Hz shows), comparable battery life with sooner charging, and extra refined software program. As we speak’s cellphone market has extra fierce competitors than ever, and “fairly good” generally simply is not sufficient.
Purchase it if:
- You do a number of performance-intensive gaming in your cellphone.
- Lengthy battery life is a precedence.
- You need one thing that may stand out from the group.
Do not buy it if:
- You are in search of one thing with a ton of options.
- You want a class-leading digicam.
- The software program expertise is vital to you.
The place to purchase:
The Black Shark 2 Professional is out there completely by way of the Black Shark retailer within the US. The 8GB/128GB mannequin is $599, and the 12GB/256GB model is $699. You may select from Shadow Black, Iceberg Gray, and Gulf Blue (12GB/256GB solely).